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Thursday, December 31, 2009

"A Trumpet in the Wadi" by Sami Michael

Sami Michael is an Iraqi Jewish author who has experienced the Israeli Arab conflict from several different angles. He relates with both the view points of the Arab and Jewish communities.
The story takes place in Wadi Salib, a slum area located in Haifa. It is inhabited primarily by Israeli Arabs. One particular family living there consists of a grandfather, a Coptic christian who wandered through the Sinai to get to Israel/ Palestine, a mother and two daughters named Mary and Huda. Mary the younger one is a lively young girl who is dating Zuhair, the son of the local crime boss Abu Nakhla. Abu Nakla despite the fact that he sell drugs and prostitutes women is protected by the Israelis. He was an informer during the 1947 war so he get away with murder even if his actions like selling drugs also impact the Jewish population. Zuhair wants to marry , Mary but the family of Mary is not so keen on the idea. Then along comes Alex.
Alex's arrival in the story changes many things. He is a Russian immigrant who studies at Technion university. His Hebrew is rather shoddy and he plays the trumpet at night. Huda who is older and does not have any marriage prospects at the moment will soon become very attached to Alex. Alex rents the room on the roof of the apartment where everybody lives. Abu Nakkla owns the building. Events take on a life of their own and soon enough Alex becomes acquainted and friendly with the rest of the family. As Huda and Alex get closer questions come up because Alex is a Jew and Huda is a Christian Arab. Their love grows stronger and Alex's relation to the family does as well especially after he protects the family from Zuhair when he learn that she would rather marry someone else.
Mary is pregnant with Zuhair's child so she must convince her new found fiance to have relations with her. In the end they get married and Alex's love for Huda remains strong. Yet like all love stories involving Arabs and Jews there is always a tragic ending.

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